Why Do Cats Hate Water? (And How to Convince Them to Take a Bath)

Photo of sad wet cat taking bath

Why do cats hate water so much? By: H.Y.C./Flickr

As frequently as cats bathe themselves each day, it would make sense that they would enjoy taking a bath as well.

Cats often try to get a fresh drink of water out of a dripping faucet also. However, if you’ve ever tried to stick your kitty in the bathtub, your cat will likely put up considerable resistance.

In addition, if your cat has ever accidently slipped into a sink or tub full of water, the cat likely made a frantic and hasty exit from the water and hid.

Why is it that animals who spend so much time grooming don’t like water?

Reasons Cats Don’t Like Water

There are several reasons your cat may not like being submerged in water.

One is that the cat’s fur becomes waterlogged, which weighs down your cat. While the top layer of its fur is water-resistant to a degree, if the whole coat is drenched, your pet will be uncomfortable.

Cats are also sensitive to odors, and it is speculated that your cat may not like the scent of chemicals from tap water.

In addition, some cats may not like being submerged in water simply because they have never experienced it before, and cats are naturally skittish.

Some Cats Do Like Water

Some domestic cats actually enjoy the water, particularly if they live in a region that has a hot, dry climate. The water is cool and refreshing to the cat, and the cat may swim or soak in it.

Cats are as adept at fishing as they are hunting mice, and some cats will sit in the water or at the edge of a source of water to catch fish. Large jungle cats, like lions and tigers, spend a lot of time in the water cooling off, and they are great swimmers.

Just as with people, cats in colder climates don’t like to get completely wet because it causes them to lose body heat.

To Each His Own

Your cat may enjoy water to some degree, or it may prefer to avoid it at all costs.

Most cats tend to be at least a little bit curious about water and will stick a paw into a sink full of water or under a running faucet. However, sticking one foot in the water and taking a bath are entirely different.

If your cat is apprehensive about getting near or in the water, then it is probably best for you and her if you don’t push it. If you scare her, you could be injured by kitty’s sharp claws, and she may lose trust in you.

Convincing Kitty to Take a Bath?

Since your kitty spends a large part of her waking hours grooming herself, bathing your cat shouldn’t be an issue most of the time.

However, if your kitty gets into something sticky or gets muddy, you may want her clean sooner than she can do the job herself. On these occasions, the best strategy is to be gentle and ease her into the water.

Make sure that the water is warm, and don’t use any kind of additives, like bubble bath, to the water. Gently ease her into the water while stroking her and speaking to her softly.

Don’t be surprised if her hair stands on end and the claws come out, however. Unless you have been bathing her since she was a kitten, you may have a hard time getting her to agree to take a bath.

Sponge Bath

If kitty is dirty or sticky, you might want to try a sponge or cloth bath to get her clean. Use a special formulated cat shampoo that won’t dry out her skin, and apply it to the sponge or cloth. Rub any dirty spots or wipe all over her.

Rinse out the cloth or sponge and gently wipe your cat off with clear water. She will take care of the rest.

Check Out This Sweet Video

On a lighter note, I highly recommend this video of a cat that is not only unafraid of water but is making some new dolphin friends. So cute!

Additional Resources

  • Way of Cats: Why are cats afraid of water?
  • Pets Magazine (Singapore): Scared of showers
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From Around the Web

  • kitty perry

    hey my cat wont go anywhere near water and i have tried everything to get it near it. what do i do?

    • roger

      Kitty perry, my cat hates water as does my brother’s cat (which is my cat’s son) however giving those two a bath are very different, My cat just kind of cries and looks pathetic, but she’ll allow you to wash her down and wont really scratch at all, just cry (it’s almost sad) my brother’s cat on the other hand turns into a demon from hell, he tries to bite and claw and jump out and bite and claw some more, so we stick a sock over his head (a clean one) so he cant bite us, and one holds him down while the other scrubs him clean. Both get towel dried at the end, and we wait until they lick themselves completely dry before letting them outside so they wont get dirt stuck on the coats. Hope this helped.

  • Adovock

    I read that cats can be in water and even swim, but they’re just too lazy.